Review: If One Night: A Collodion Remedy (Wheelwright)

If One Night Actors: Katherine Cullen, Evan Harkai, Chloe Sullivan

Wheelwright’s If One Night performed at Toronto’s Trinity St. Paul’s – a new touring music-theatre show that gave theatre a good reimagining

Have you ever been to something that you just wanted to tell everyone about? Well If One Night: A Collodion Remedy by Wheelwright was one of those. I loved it. I was invited to see it by a friend, one of the writers. A bunch of my friends were going so I decided to tag along. It turned out to be such a great decision I asked if I could write a review about it.

Wheelwright sold If One Night as “a new touring music-theatre show”. The theatre part of the show is about 3 individuals who obsessively move cities. The narrative follows their logic, as each of the characters tries to explain to us their silent, yet unignorable desire to emigrate to a new city. The music part comes in the form of 5 local bands and musicians playing between the actors scenes.

As soon as I got to the venue, Trinity St. Paul’s, I knew that this was not going to be your typical theatre show. Trinity St. Paul’s is home to Tafelmusik, who use the interior of the church for performances. The show was not there, it was in the rehearsal studios behind the official performing area.

After patiently waiting in the hallway with other audience members and people waiting for rehearsal spaces, we were let in to a darkened room with piles of cardboard boxes set up around the edges. As we walked in we were instructed to take a seat on the floor in the centre of the room. When the show got started we got to see why we had been put on the floor, each scene happened against a different pile of cardboard boxes. Our attention was constantly being called from across the room. We were never still for very long, always on the look out for the next part.

Over the course of the evening we heard from a great eclectic group of local performers including Nick Everett, Zari, Sean Donald, Callum MacLeod and Julian Knight, Kith and Kin. These musicians ranged from indie solo performers to a Georgian trio to a pair of baroque improvisers. Seeing the work so intimately and in such a casual environment felt less like a staged performance and more like a gathering of friends throwing a going away party. The dim lights, high ceilings, and beautiful performances created a wonderfully charming yet very eerie atmosphere.

The show was only in Toronto for one night, and is now on to its next city. As much as I wish I could tell you all to go see it, it makes sense that If One Night only has a run of one night. Its fleeting stay in each of the cities it visits is almost another character in the production. Just as none of the characters can settle down, neither can this production.

Wheelwright has clearly given every aspect of this production equal care and consideration from text to location and everything in between. In its hodgepodge venue, causal environment and easily transportable set If One Night: A Collodion Remedy gave theatre a good reimagining.

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In the photo: Katherine Cullen, Evan Harkai, Chloe Sullivan. Photo from Wheelwright.